What This Situation Is Like for Parents


Children’s emotions can be so big. And loud. And when they’re screaming and carrying on, it can really grate on your nerves. 

And when they’re in it, it seems like there is nothing you can do to make them stop.

If you try to speak calmly to them, it only upsets them more.

If you try to tell speak to them logically, they only get more mad.

So you start to walk on eggshells around your child, just hoping not to set them off. That is not how you want to live, but you don’t know what else to do. 


What This Situation Is Like for Kids


All day long, children are told that they what they can’t have and what they can’t do. 

They are told how to act, and they’re reminded quite clearly when they’re acting inappropriately. They’re expected to do things that are just not in their nature to do.

And at some point, all of that takes its toll. 

They feel frustrated. They feel misunderstood, like no one cares about their perspective. And they feel completely powerless to do anything about it. 

So they have these big emotions… and they have no idea how to stop all of the feelings that are flooding them.

They always feel bad about it later. But in the moment, they just can’t seem to stop themselves. 



How It Usually Goes

When A Child Is In the Middle of a Meltdown


Scenario: Chloe just grabbed a book right out of her brother’s hands. Chloe’s dad saw her take the book and told Chloe to give it back. Chloe starts to melt down.


Dad: Chloe, we don’t just take things from other people!

Chloe: It’s my book!

Dad: It doesn’t matter! You can ask him for it.

Chloe: He doesn’t ever give things back when I ask him!

Dad: ENOUGH, Chloe! There is no reason to take something like that.

Chloe (starts yelling): Why are you always so mean to me?!

Dad: I’m not, Chloe!

Chloe (yelling louder, starting to shake and cry): You all hate me! I’m always getting in trouble!

Dad: Chloe, no one hates you. You just can’t take things from other people.

Chloe starts to scream. 

Dad: Chloe! Stop that now!

Chloe screams louder.

Dad (yelling): That’s it! You leave right now! Get out of here! Go to your room if you’re going to do that!

Chloe keeps screaming and ignores her dad.

Dad tries to yell above Chloe but is unable to.


How It Could Go

When A Child Is In the Middle of a Meltdown 


Dad: Chloe, we don’t just take things from other people!

Chloe: It’s my book!

Dad: You’re right, it is. And you can ask him for it.

Chloe: He doesn’t ever give things back when I ask him!

Dad: OK. But there is no reason to take something from someone else.

Chloe (starts yelling): Why are you always so mean to me!

Dad doesn’t defend himself and doesn’t say anything.


Chloe’s dad knows that he isn’t truly mad all the time. He also knows that Chloe is saying that because she’s in Yuck, so he doesn’t waste his energy trying to correct her. He knows he can handle her Yuck if he just focuses on not letting her comments control him. 


Chloe (yelling): Dad, you’re always mad at me!

Dad (speaking calmly): I’m here now, Chloe.

Chloe (yelling): I don’t want you here now!

Dad doesn’t respond. 

Chloe starts to scream. Most of what she says is unintelligible.

Dad stays where he is and doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t look at Chloe directly, but he doesn’t leave her.



Instead of insisting that Chloe change her behavior, her dad shows her that he can handle her big emotions. He doesn’t let her emotions determine his actions. Instead, he shows Chloe that he can support her — even when he doesn’t agree with her behavior. 


Chloe starts to sob after a few minutes. 

Dad: Do you want a hug?

Chloe: No!

Dad: OK. I’m right here.

Chloe doesn’t say anything. She sobs for a few more moments and eventually stops. Then she slowly walks over to her dad and puts her head on his shoulder.

Dad doesn’t say a word now, but makes a note to himself to talk to her later about how she can address her brother more respectfully.



Chloe’s dad recognizes that her behavior is a sign of Yuck. He knows that she doesn’t have the tools to handle her own emotions, so he is lending her his “calm.” As he demonstrates healthy emotional regulation, Chloe has a model to imitate and will learn to behave the same way herself. 



How to Make the In-the-Moment Strategy Work


The “proactive deposits” discussed in the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap will make all of the difference in how this situation plays out in the moment.

If you want to handle meltdowns effectively, remember:


Depositing into CALM

Chloe’s dad will NOT be able to stay calm if:

a.) his own biological or emotional “needs accounts” are low or

b.) he has the expectation that Chloe is going to be respectful even when she is in Yuck

See Step 1 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap for help meeting your needs and setting expectations proactively so you can stay calm.


Depositing into CONNECT

Chloe’s dad will only be able to connect if:

a.) he recognizes that all behavior has a reason

b.) he understands that in this case, Chloe’s screams are her way of releasing her Yuck and that addressing her behavior while she is in Yuck is ineffective.

When he becomes comfortable with the reasons behind behavior PROACTIVELY (see Step 3 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap), he will be able to connect more effectively.

See Step 2 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap to learn the reasons for children’s behavior so you can connect more effectively.


Depositing into CORRECT

Chloe’s dad will have more of an impact on Chloe if:

a.) He has demonstrated consistently in the past that he is on her side is not always trying to correct or fix her.

b.) He has made enough deposits into Chloe’s emotional needs that his presence does not put her deeper into Yuck.

When he demonstrates that he has her back and when he makes deposits into Chloe’s emotional needs PROACTIVELY, he will be able to correct Chloe’s behavior more efficiently.

See Step 3 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap  to learn more about improving your influence so you can correct behavior.